How to Avoid Scams and Fake Locksmiths

You may have heard Kevin Cassidy talk on the KGO 810AM radio show recently. He called Len Tillem's show to ask if there was anything we could do about a fraudulent organization using our business address to advertise themselves on google maps.

There is a serious situation currently taking place in the locksmith industry, not just online, but also in the phonebook. This is how these scamers work:

They set up a call centre - which could be anywhere in the country. The call centres market themselves online and in the phonebook with local numbers and local addresses. They do not have a location at these addresses, they are usually hijaking another locksmith's address or even a residential address. Check your own address on google maps, many people have done so and found false businesses located there. *

People call the numbers they see advertised, they are diverted to a call centre and it all sounds very professional, just as the websites look professional. The call centre usually quotes very low prices then notifies someone who has agreed to accept hot leads from them. This person may or may not be a licensed locksmith these companies do not care, they do not check, they are only interested in earning their commission. The person who comes to your house pays the call centre for getting your call, and probably to compensate for that, they tell you there is something special about your lock and it's going to cost you more than you were originally told. They know how much you want to get into your home - you've probably waited an hour for them to show up - you might even be standing there in your pyjama's. You'll probably pay anything because you've got no choice.

One of our customers was charged $500 for one of these so called locksmith's to gain entry through just one lock, she called us and told us about her experience and we advised her to report the company to the police and she later informed us that the person responsible was found and eventually action was actually taken against them.

These frauds nearly always drill through your lock to get in, why? Possibly becasue they've never had any training and don't know how to pick a lock. They hardly ever replace the lock that they have drilled through - which means you have to pay someone else to do that. For us drilling is only done if we can't pick the lock after 15 minutes of trying and we would never leave you with an unsecure lock that has been drilled because your door would no longer be secure and anyone could just walk into your house.

What should you do to avoid these people?

1. When you call any locksmith ask the person on the phone for the name of the person coming out to you, their license number, and the address of where they are located or the address they use for their license. Every locksmith has to have a license from the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services. If they can't give you this information don't use them.

2. When the locksmith arrives ask him or her to show their license and check it against what you were told. The license doesn't have a picture so you should ask to see their driver's license too - then you will really know who you are dealing with. If they cannot show you this information refuse their service and or call the police.

A real license means that the Locksmith has no criminal record and their fingerprints are kept on file for security reasons. It's fairly basic and in it's short portable form it looks like this:

In full form it looks like this (A4 size)


Finally: Get an estimate of how much the service is likely to cost you. If you called our shop, we might not be able to give you an exact amount without seeing the situation but we would definitely give you a minimum and maximum of what the work is likely to cost. Sometimes people give incorrect information when inquiring about prices, when the Locksmith arrives at your home and actually sees the situation  it is possible that the job might cost more than you were originally quoted - however-  they should definitely tell you this before beginning work and be able to explain and show the reasons for the extra cost so you can choose whether to have the work done or not.  

You can also join the on line petition that has been established by this organization to appeal to the yellow pages to stop allowing these fake addresses and numbers to be published:

That's pretty much it!

*If you find someone using your address on google maps you can edit their information - even without their password. Google states that it will send a postcard to your address so you confirm the information you have edited, it takes 2 weeks to do this and there's nothing to stop it happening again, but if enough people do it maybe google will take some action. You can also write a review on google or on yelp about the fraudulent business to warn others. AND you can call your local police station and file a report.